Roasted Winter Squash with Creamy, Crunchy Toppings

March 6, 2020

Who’s to say this can’t be dinner?

A sheet pan of crisp-edged, roasted winter squash painted with white dabs of feta, speckled with mahogany toasted walnuts, and trickled with golden honey is complete enough of a meal for me.

Sure, this recipe could work as a vegetarian side dish next to thick, oblong pork chops or fat, flaky salmon. It would be delicious tossed into pasta or piled on top of toasted bread. The next day, it could accompany you to work in a glass Pyrex nestled in a salad of farro and dried cranberries, or peeking out of crisp lettuces. 

Or, it could wind up by itself, on your dinner plate, with dim lighting and tiny candles giving the orange hue of the squash a dull glow. 

The (new) best way to roast winter squash

Roasting squash at the same temperature you’d blacken a pizza crust is the best method to achieve caramelized, crispy edges without obliterating the structure of the vegetable. 

A short stint in a hot oven allows the squash’s interior to melt enough that it slips easily onto a fork, but not so much that it could be puréed into a soup

A salted, well-roasted winter squash is a pleasure in itself, but a few creamy, crunchy, glossy toppings can transform a humble dish into an epicurean delight.

First, the squash of your choice (such as butternut, acorn, kabocha, or delicata squash) is doused in olive oil, salt, pepper, and a generous shake of granulated garlic. Fresh garlic would burn in the scorching oven, plus, I happen to have an affinity for the often-maligned garlic granules. 

I won’t get into that right now. 

Overhead shot of raw winter squash on a sheet pan.

After less than a half hour in the oven, the squash comes out gleaming with new flavor and promise, like a birthday cake ready for its frosting. 

And now, for the toppings

And frosting it will get; in the form of rich, roasted walnuts, fluffs of feta cheese, and a slow drizzle of honey. A splash of champagne vinegar and a shower of lemon zest jolts everything awake, while sparks of red pepper flakes and parsley keep it fresh. 

Overhead shot of roasted winter squash on a sheet pan with walnuts & feta.

This recipe teeters on the edge between sweet and savory, with a healthy dose of tanginess nudging it slightly toward the latter.

It’s a classy, colorful vegetarian side dish (main dish!) that you can use as a formula for your other farmer’s market finds. Try it with roasted brussels sprouts or cauliflower, or any other hearty vegetable. 

Which is to say, any hearty vegetable can be the centerpiece on your dinner plate when you treat it lovingly and lavishly. 

Yes it can even be dinner, if you say so.

Roasted Winter Squash with Creamy, Crunchy Toppings

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (3 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Side Dish American
By Samantha Serves: 4 as a side dish
Prep Time: 20 mintes Cooking Time: 25 minutes Total Time: 45 minutes

The best roasted winter squash recipe that balances on the edge of sweet and savory, with a healthy dose of spice, a dash of lemon zest, and a drizzle of honey.


  • About 2 lb. winter squash, such as butternut, acorn, or delicata squash (one type or a mixture)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup roasted walnuts (or any kind of nut), chopped
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • Zest of one lemon
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley, cilantro, or dill)



Preheat the oven to 500℉.


Prep the squash: Trim off the top and bottom of the squash, then peel the skin (you can leave the skin on if you’re making acorn or delicata squash, it's edible!). Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds (save them for the squirrels), and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Arrange on a large rimmed sheet pan, you want to give them plenty of room and don’t want to crowd the pan. Season with a generous amount of olive oil, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.


Roast for 20-25 minutes, until the edges just start to get dark brown and blackened in spots.


Once they’re out of the oven, scatter roasted walnuts on top, drizzle with honey, champagne vinegar, and sprinkle with lemon zest, red pepper flakes, feta cheese, and fresh herbs. Finish it off with a final drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a few cranks of black pepper.


  • 258 Calories


The skin of acorn and delicata squash is edible, but I actually don't like it. If you're like me, it's easier to roast delicata or acorn squash with the skin on and simply spoon the squash from it's flesh once it's cooked. The skin of butternut squash is not edible, peel it before roasting.

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.